Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Indo-US 2+2 talks: Crucial defence deal BECA signed, Rajnath Singh calls it a significant move

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Indo-US 2+2 talks: The signing of the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) during the 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue was a significant step in the bilateral defence relations between India and the US, said Defence Minister Rajnath Singh here on Tuesday.

Speaking at the joint press conference after the 2+2 meet, the Defence Minister said that in the two-day meeting, “we explored probable capacity building and other joint cooperation activities in third countries”. “Our military to military cooperation is progressing very well. In two days meeting, we also explored probable capacity building and other joint cooperation activities in third countries including our neighbourhood and beyond,” he said.

He further said, “During the meeting today, we had comprehensive discussions on key aspects of our bilateral and multilateral cooperation. We considered the major challenges we face — the need for quick economic recovery and growth, prevention of the pandemic, re-built the global supply chain and their related issues received obvious priority in our discussions.”

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Speaking about his meeting with US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, Singh said, “I met Dr Esper yesterday to discuss bilateral defence issues. We continued our discussions on a larger regional and global perspective today during the 2+2 meet. Signing the BECA today, after signing the LEMOA in 2016 and COMCOSA in 2018, is a significant achievement in that direction.”

“We also agreed that upholding rules-based international order respecting rule of law and freedom of navigation in the international sea and uploading territorial integrity and sovereignty of all states are essential,” he said. Further speaking on the discussions held during the 2+2 meet, Rajnath Singh said, “In our meeting, we shared an assessment of the security situation across the Indo-Pacific. In that process, we re-affirm our commitment to peace, stability and prosperity of all countries in the region.”

“Our defence cooperation is intended to further these objectives. Both sides welcomed Australia joining the forthcoming Malabar excercise. We appreciate the visit of Secretary Pompeo and Esper to India. We had a very constructive dialogue and will continue to work together to strengthen our engagement in defence, security and other areas,” he added.

The 2+2 India-US ministerial dialogue was held between US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and US Defence Secretary Mark Esper and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. While thanking the US delegates for participating in the 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Defence Minister expressed gratitude to the US for their commitment to India-US bilateral relations.

Speaking on the “noteworthy” steps taken in follow-up to the earlier India-US discussion, he said, “I would also like to highlight some of the noteworthy steps taken by both India and the US in followup to our early discussions, each includes positioning of a US Navy’s liaison officer and an Indian fusion centre, Indian Ocean region and Indian liaison officer at Navishent Bahrain, greater interaction and coordination with CENTCOM and AFRICAN setting up of the COMESET account, and increasing the scope and complexities of our exercises.”

The Defence Minister said the “liaison officers at each of our establishment could be leveraged to enhance our information sharing architecture”. He further said, “I welcome the acceptance of our cooperation in the advanced field of maritime domain awareness. Both sides agreed to comprehend the requirements and initiate processes for the joint development of requisite systems and expertise. In the defence industrial cooperation area, we had a very candid and useful discussion.”

“Recent initiative of Aatmanirbhar Bharat in the defence sector was underlined as a key driver and a guiding sector of our defence industrial cooperation. I highlighted the capabilities of Indian defence industry and their usefulness in the supply chain of major platforms and systems. We have identified priority near term projects for joint development between respective agencies that need to be fast-tracked under the defence, trade and technology initiative and resolve to work together in defence, research and development more efficiently,” he said.

Rajnath also said the defence innovation field is growing consistently in the India-US discussions in recent years. “The instruments of industrial security annex Defense Innovation Unit, Memorandum of Intent, which were agreed upon the signed during our last 2+2 meetings are beginning to bear fruit,” he added.

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